AS Levels following Curriculum Reform in England from 2015

How does Liverpool currently use the AS level?

For our non-clinical programmes, we do not formally use the results that applicants have obtained at AS level as part of our decision-making criteria. This is because it is already the case that not all schools are required to certificate AS level achievement and we therefore do not believe it to be fair to use AS level grades when not all applications based on A/AS levels include this information. Our decision is mainly based on predicted grades and other information provided within the UCAS application, such as GCSE achievement, the personal statement and the reference. However, in the interests of making holistic assessments of applications, admissions staff may use any or all of the information provided in the UCAS application to arrive at a judgement about the suitability of a candidate for admission to their programme. As such, AS level achievement forms part of the overall profile of a candidate and may be taken into account alongside other academic and non-academic factors.

Some of the clinical subject areas, such as Medicine, currently require a fourth AS level subject alongside three A levels and these subject areas do therefore use the AS level formally as part of the selection process.


How will the University of Liverpool assess applications when AS-levels are 'decoupled' from A-level?

As explained above, for most of our programmes our current admissions procedures do not formally use the AS level as part of our decision-making, so we do not anticipate that our processes will change when AS levels are reformed. If applicants have taken AS levels, we would expect them to record the results on their UCAS application, but we will not require applicants to have taken AS levels (except for the clinical subjects).


Is it worthwhile taking an additional AS level as well as three A-levels?

We welcome the breadth of study represented by additional AS levels, and the opportunity that this gives to students to study a subject beyond GCSE level alongside the subjects they have chosen for A-level. Taking an additional AS subject will also help to keep your options open, as you may find that you want to continue to A level with a subject that you originally intended only to take to AS level.


Do you expect students to sit AS level examinations and then decide which A levels to take?

No.  We recognise that schools will adopt different policies and that some may encourage students to sit AS levels at the end of Year 12, while others will not.  We would expect schools to articulate their policy regarding AS levels in their UCAS reference.  We will use the information that is available to us on the UCAS form to arrive at our decision and will therefore use a combination of predicted grades, GCSE achievement and the information given in personal statements and references to inform that decision.


Will students who don't have AS grades at the end of Year 12 be disadvantaged?

No. Many schools in the independent sector already choose not to certificate AS levels, and the University of Liverpool is used to dealing with applications from students who have a range of qualifications. If there are no AS level grades on the application form, we will use other information on the form – primarily predicted grades, but also other information such as GCSE results, the personal statement and the reference – in order to make our decision.

Following A-level reform it is likely that the offer in Medicine will also be based on three A-levels. However, we welcome the breadth of study an additional AS-level may bring and thus an excellent grade in an additional independent subject may be taken as evidence of academic excellence. As such it is important that the schools articulate their policy regarding AS levels in the UCAS reference as this may possibly influence the processing of applications and the level of offers made. 


Will the University of Liverpool introduce any form of admissions test in the absence of AS levels as an indicator of progress in the sixth form?

We currently have no intention of introducing admissions tests in the absence of AS levels. There are a small number of subject areas which already use admissions tests, such as Medicine, Dentistry and the Health Sciences, or which require additional assessment, such as Architecture, but we do not anticipate making any further changes as a result of the reform of AS levels.


Will students be disadvantaged if they take 3 AS-levels rather than 4?

No. Our offers for non-clinical programmes and Veterinary Science are based on three A-levels, so students who have taken only three AS levels, or who do not take AS levels at all but choose three subjects at the outset for A level, will not be disadvantaged.

Following A-level reform it is likely that the offer in Medicine will also be based on three A-levels. However, we welcome the breadth of study an additional AS-level may bring and thus an excellent grade in an additional independent subject may be taken as evidence of academic excellence. As such it is important that the schools articulate their policy regarding AS levels in the UCAS reference as this may possibly influence the processing of applications and the level of offers made. 


If the new A levels are more challenging, and it is more difficult to obtain the highest grades, will Liverpool's offer change?

It will be some time after the introduction of the changes to AS and A level before we have sufficient data to understand whether the pattern of achievement at A level has changed. We will monitor the grades achieved by our applicants and their subsequent progress on our courses and may adapt our offer if the evidence tells us that this is appropriate.